Istanbul's strategic position along the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have helped foster an eclectic populace, although less so since the establishment of the Republic in 1923. Overlooked for the new capital during the interwar period, the city has since regained much of its prominence. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have flocked to the metropolis and city limits have expanded to accommodate them. Arts festivals were established at the end of the 20th century, while infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network.
Seven million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2010, when it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world's tenth-most-popular tourist destination. The city's biggest draw remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but its cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city, Istanbul hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. Hoping to capitalize on its revitalization and rapid expansion, Istanbul is currently bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Istanbul is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque at dusk
Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is Turkey's most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. Istanbul's population is estimated to be between 12 and 19 million people, making it also one of the largest in Europe and the world.
Istanbul was one of three European Capitals of Culture in 2010.
Essentially Constantinople of Roman, Byzantine, and much of the Ottoman period, this is where most of the famous historical sights of Istanbul are located.
Housing many of the nightlife venues of the city, this district which includes Beyoğlu, Istiklal Street, and Taksim Square has also its own share of sights and accommodation.
Main business district of the city, also home to many modern shopping malls, and districts such as Elmadağ, Nişantaşı, and Etiler.
European bank of Bosphorus that is dotted by numerous palaces, parks, water-front mansions, and bohemian neighborhoods.
Banks of Golden Horn, the estuary that separates European Side into distinctive districts. Eyüp with an Ottoman ambience is located here.
An excellent getaway from the city, made up of an archipelago of nine car-free islands—some of them small, some of them big—with splendid wooden mansions, verdant pine forests and nice views—both on the islands themselves, and also on the way there.
Eastern half of Istanbul, with lovely neighborhoods at the Marmara and Bosphorus coasts.
Western chunk of the European Side.
Shopping in Istanbul is a mixture of old, new, antique, exotic and unadulterated kitsch. Souvenirs, spices, leather goods, carpets, kilims and earthenware are all popular buys with tourists, but the experience is more about wandering through the winding streets and markets, taking everything in and hunting for bargains. The most notable market is the Grand Bazaar, which boasts over 4,000 shops and, just in case that's not enough, the entire market is surrounded by a maze of streets lined with even more shops! Just about everything and anything can be found at the Grand Bazaar and haggling is an essential skill. The Egyptian market and the flea market in Beyazit Square are also worth a visit. Outside the Grand Bazaar, to the east, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi is the place to buy jewelry, and fine art boutiques can be found nestled down the side streets. A shopping trip in Istanbul is not complete without buying a box of Turkish delight, which can be found all over the city and in souks and specialist shops. Most shops in Istanbul are open from 8am until roughly 9pm, and religious shopkeepers will close for an hour on Friday at lunchtime for prayers at the Mosque. In many areas shops are closed on Sundays. Non-European tourists can apply for a tax refund depending on the nature of the goods that have been purchased. In Turkey, the minimum purchase to qualify for a refund is TL100 and visitors will need to request a VAT refund request form when making a purchase.
Those in the know reckon Istanbul only comes to life once the sun sets. There is certainly an astounding range of nightlife in the city, from cutting edge techno to belly-dancing. The nadir of all this activity is BeyoÃ°lu with plenty of wine bars, jazz joints and hip rooftop bars. In contrast, the tourist area of Sultanahmet has few venues worth mentioning. Start your evening off at one of the many meyhanes- a type of Turkish tavern famous for raki and mezze platters. Some of the best nightclubs are in Ortaköy, overlooking the Bosphorous. The two most popular are Reina and Sortie, both famous for supermodels, millionaires and the effortlessly hip. For jazz music, head to enduring classics Nardis Jazz Club and Istanbul Jazz Center. Clubs and bars stay open very late and drinks prices are good compared to European cities. Be careful of visiting strip joints or belly-dancing clubs - these are notorious for ripping off tourists. Always establish prices before ordering anything. For local listings check out Time Out Istanbulor the Turkish Daily News.
Istanbul is not a typical family holiday destination but there are plenty of quality attractions for the kids if you are spending a few days in this great city while en route to the beach resorts or islands. Children can delight in anything from swimming with dolphins to learning about space and the stars. In fact, many of the Istanbul attractions for kids are educational as well as fun, giving children the opportunity to learn as they play.
Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Airport Code: IST
Full Airport Name: Istanbul Ataturk International Airport
Location: The airport is situated 15 miles (23km) west of Istanbul.
Time Zone: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Phone Number: Tel: +90 212 465 5555.
Terminal Transfer: Walking through the metro access tunnel only takes 10 minutes. Shuttle buses and taxis are also available.
Ground Transport: The Istanbul Metro system provides quick and easy access to the city, including
the intercity bus terminal. Tickets cost around TRY 1.30. Use metro station Zeytinburnu and transfer to a tram to reach the Eminonu ferry or Sea Bus docks. The airport Havas Bus leaves from the Departures terminal gate and connects to Taksim Square or Kozyatagi. Shuttle buses depart from 4am to 1am, and take 40 minutes into the city. Taxis are also available and cost roughly $20 into downtown. Taxi rates are 50 percent higher between midnight and 6am.
Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, National and Sixt.
Airport Taxis: The Istanbul Ataturk Airport is 15 miles (23km) west of Istanbul and takes around thirty minutes to reach Taksim Square. Fees depend largely on the destination in Istanbul but should be around US$20. Rates are as much as fifty percent higher at night. Passengers should only take metered taxis and insist drivers turn the meter on.
Airport Facilities: Banks, ATMs and bureaux de change are available. A pharmacy, children's playroom, hairdresser, florist, newsstand and medical services are available. Facilities for the disabled are good, but those with special needs should make prior arrangements with their airline. Other facilities include tourist information and hotel reservations, bars, restaurants (very overpriced), duty-free shopping, a conference center, post office and 24-hour left luggage.
Departure Tax: None.
In summer the weather in Istanbul is hot and humid, the temperature between June and September averaging 82°F (28°C). Summers are relatively dry, but rain does occur all year round. During winter it is cold, wet and often snowy. Snowfalls tend to be heavy, but temperatures rarely drop as low as freezing point. Istanbul also tends to be a windy city.
Other parts of Turkey
Beach vacations and Blue Cruise, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern baklava coast, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antahilly is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.  Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Cesme, Didim and Alanya.
Lots of cultural an roaring attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon] (where one of the oldest monastery Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia. (see List of Archaeological Sites Sorted by Country-Turkey)
Diyarbakır is also an important historic city, although tourism is on a relatively small level due to waning armed conflicts.
Ankara has an historic old town, and although is not exactly a touristic city, is usual as a stop for travelers who go to Cappadocia. The city enjoys an excellent cultural life too, having a lot of museums and cultural events. The Anıtkabir is also in Ankara. It is the mausoleum of Ataturk (meaning father of the Turks), the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Characteristics of Turkey's tourists
Foreign tourists mainly come from the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Russia and Japan, but tourists from Arab countries, Iran, the USA, France and Scandinavia are not uncommon. There seems to be a trend in which British tourists tend to go on holiday to Aegean resorts such as Bodrum or Marmaris, whilst German and Russian tourists almost exclusively go to resorts on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey (e.g. Antalya) and Japanese tourists mainly visit Istanbul and historical sites such as Ephesus (although in both cases, tourists from almost all over the world can be found in these places, Japanese tourists visit them in very large numbers).
People from Spain have become frequent tourists in recent years. In 2007, 200,000 Spaniards visited Turkey. Most Spaniards book hotels in Istanbul (it is becoming especially popular among them) and many of them also visit Cappadocia.
The Antalya Region, offering all the mysticism of past in our day, is now called the "Turkish Riviera" due to its archaeological and natural beauties. Antalya is the place where sea, sun, history and nature constitute a perfect harmony and which also includes the most beautiful and clearest coast along the Medditerranean. The city still preserves its importance as a centre throughout history in the south coast of the country, in addition to its wonderful natural beauties. The mythological city which housed the Gods and Goddesses now exhibits all its secrets and marvels to mankind.
Antalya is located in the west of the Medditerranean region. In ancient times it covered all Pamphylia which means "the land of all tribes". The land really deserves the name since it has witnessed many successive civilizations throughout history. In 1st century BC the Pergamum king Attalus ordered his men to find the most beautiful piece of land on earth; he wanted them to find "heaven on earth". After a long search all over the world, they discovered this land and said "This must be 'Heaven' " and King Attalus founded the city giving it the name "Attaleia". From then on many nations kept their eyes on the city. When the Romans took over the Pergamene Kingdom, Attaleia became an outstanding Roman city which the great Roman Emperor Hadrian visited in 130 AD; an arch was built in his honour which is now worth seeing. Then came the Byzantines, after which the Seljuk Turks took over the city in 1207 and gave it a different name, Adalya, and built the Yivli Minaret. The Ottomans followed the Seljuks and finally within the Turkish Republic it became a Turkish city and an important port. Antalya has been growing rapidly since 1960 and its population is 1,146,109 acccording to the 1990 census.
The climate of the province is typical Medditerranean: hot and dry in summers and temperate and rainy in winters. Sunshine is guaranteed from April to October and the winters are pleasantly mild. The humidity is a little bit high, about 64%, and the average water temperature is 21.5 °C. Antalya is really a heavenly place where the summer season is about 8-9 months long.
You may reach Antalya from almost every city of the country, and even from little towns, coach companies going to Antalya are available.
Antalya has an international airport which may connect you to major cities. It has modern facilities including waiting rooms, restaurants, cafebar, and a shopping centre.
When traveling by sea, one can use the AntalyaVenice Ferryboat line.
Antalya and its surrounding is an important and noteworthy touristic centre on the Mediterranean Coast with its perfect climate and splendid harmony of archaeological, historical and natural beauties, throughout the year. Daily tours to surrounding touristic areas like Side, Alanya and Termessos are available, in addition to longer tours to Pamukkale or Cappadocia or anywhere you would like to go. Proffessional tourist guides are also available.
City Walls: The memorial Hadrian Arch and The Clock Tower are remarkable and date back to Hellenistic era.
Kaleici: This is the nucleus of a city which embraced many civilizations during time. It is now restored and has became a most attractive touristic centre with its hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities. Kalei,ci retains all the original ancient Turkish archaeological characteristics. The port's marina has been completely restored and is wellworth visiting. The restoration activities in Kaleici won the Golden Apple Prize, the Oscar of tourism.
Antalya Museum: A prize winning museum and one of the most notable archaeology museums, of the world. It is also the only museum in Turkey with a children's department exhibiting ancient monuments appealing to children.
Hadrian's Gate: This ornamental marble arch was constructed in 2nd century BC by the Romans in honour of the Emperor Hadrian. It is the most amazing area in the whole ancient Pamphylia region.
Kesik Minaret (Broken Minaret): Once a Byzantine Panaglia church, later converted into a mosque.
Yivli Minaret: This fluted minaret of 13th century was built by the Seljuks. Decorated with dark blue and turquouise tiles, the minaret eventually became the symbol of the city.
Karatay Medresesi, Hidirilk Tower, Ahi Yusuf Mescidi, Iskele Mosque, Murat Pasa Mosque, Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Balibey Mosque, Musellim Mosque, Seyh Sinan Efendi Mosque and Osman Efendi Mosque are other places to be visited.
"Han"s are Seljuk or Ottoman inns which have architectural significance. Some worth visiting are the Evdir Han, Klrkoz Han, Alara Han and Castle and Sarapsu (Serapsu) Han.
Termessos: It is a Pisidyan city with remnants of an agora, theatre and an odion. It has a reputation of being the most magnificent necropolis on the Mediterranean, 35 kms northwest of Antalya.
Perge: 18 kms northeast of Antalya. The ruins are spread on two hills, the theatre on one and the acropolis on the other. According to the legend the city was built by three heros from Troy.
Sillyon: 34 kms from Antalya on the Alanya direction. It is situated between Aspendos and Perge and dates back to 4th.century BC.
Aspendos: One of the most important Pamphilian cities. It is situated on the point where the Kopru River meets the sea. Once an important port and a commercal centre, it has a reputation for raising the best horses on earth. The odeon, basilica, galleria and fountains are worth seeing.
(Turkish: İzmir; Greek: Σμύρνη Smyrni; Latin: Smyrna) is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey. Izmir metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across Gediz River's delta, to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams and to a slightly more rugged terrain in the south. The ancient city was known as Smyrna, and the city was generally referred to as Smyrna in English, until the Turkish Postal Services Law of 1930 made "Izmir" the internationally recognized name.
The city of Izmir is composed of several metropolitan districts. Of these, Konak district corresponds to historical Izmir, this district's area having constituted the "Izmir Municipality" (Turkish: İzmir Belediyesi) area until 1984, Konak until then having been a name for a central neighborhood around Konak Square, still the core of the city. With the constitution of the "Greater Izmir Metropolitan Municipality" (Turkish: İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi), the city of Izmir became a compound bringing together initially nine, and since recently eleven metropolitan districts, namely Balçova, Bayraklı, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karabağlar, Karşıyaka, Konak and Narlıdere. Almost each of these settlements are former district centers or neighborhoods which stood on their own and with their own distinct features and temperament. In an ongoing processus, the Mayor of Izmir was also vested with authority over the areas of additional districts reaching from Aliağa in the north to Selçuk in the south, bringing the number of districts to be considered as being part of Izmir to twenty-one under the new arrangements, two of these having been administratively included in Izmir only partially.
İzmir has almost 3,500 years of recorded urban history (see Timeline of İzmir) and possibly even longer as an advanced human settlement. Lying on an advantageous location at the head of a gulf running down in a deep indentation midway on the western Anatolian coast, the city has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history. Its port is Turkey's primary port for exports in terms of the freight handled and its free zone, a Turkish-U.S. joint-venture established in 1990, is the leader among the twenty in Turkey. Its workforce, and particularly its rising class of young professionals, concentrated either in the city or in its immediate vicinity (such as in Manisa and Turgutlu), and under either larger companies or SMEs, affirm their name in an increasingly wider global scale and intensity. İzmir is widely regarded as one of the most progressive Turkish cities in terms of its values, lifestyle, dynamism and gender roles. Politically, it is considered a stronghold of the Republican People's Party.
The city hosts an international arts festival during June and July, and the İzmir International Fair, one of the city's many fair and exhibition events centered around but not limited to Kültürpark, is held in the beginning of September every year. İzmir is served by national and international flights through the Adnan Menderes International Airport and there is a modern metro line running from the southwest to the northeast. İzmir hosted the Mediterranean Games in 1971 and the World University Games (Universiade) in 2005. It had a running bid submitted to the BIE to host the Universal Expo 2015, in March, 2008, that was lost to Milan. Modern İzmir also incorporates the nearby ancient cities of Ephesus, Pergamon, Sardis and Klazomenai, and centers of international tourism such as Kuşadası, Çeşme, Mordoğan and Foça.
Despite its heritage, İzmir has suffered until recently, as one author puts it, from "sketchy understanding" in the eyes of outsiders. When the Ottomans took over İzmir in the 15th century, they did not inherit compelling historical memories, unlike the two other keys of the trade network, namely Istanbul and Aleppo. Its emergence as a major international port as of the 17th century was largely a result of the attraction it exercised over foreigners, and the city's European orientation. Very different people found İzmir attractive over the ages and the city has always been governed by fresh inspirations which stemmed from the location of its center and the readiness of its citizens to adopt novelties and new projects.
Names and etymology
İzmir is a princess with her most beautiful hat.
The modern name "İzmir" derives from the former Greek name Σμύρνη "Smyrna", through the first two syllables of the phrase "εις Σμύρνην" (pronounced "is Smirnin"), which means "to Smyrna" in Greek. A similar etymology also applies for other Turkish cities with former Greek names, such as İznik (from the phrase "is Nikaean", meaning "to Nicaea"), Istanbul (from the phrase "is tan Polin" or "to the City") or even for the Greek island of Kos, called "İstanköy" in Turkish.
In ancient Anatolia, the name of a locality called Ti-smurna is mentioned in some of the Level II tablets from the Assyrian colony in Kültepe (first half of the 2nd millennium BC), with the prefix ti- identifying a proper name, although it is not established with certainty that this name refers to modern day İzmir.
A view of central Izmir
The region of İzmir was situated on the southern fringes of the "Yortan culture" in Anatolia's prehistory, the knowledge of which is almost entirely drawn from its cemeteries, and in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, in the western end of the extension of the yet largely obscure Arzawa Kingdom, an offshoot and usually a dependency of the Hittites, who themselves spread their direct rule as far as the coast during their Great Kingdom. That the realm of the 13th century BC local Luwian ruler who is depicted in Kemalpaşa Karabel rock carving at a distance of only 50 km (31 mi) from İzmir was called the Kingdom of Myra may also leave ground for association with the city's name.
The newest rendering in Greek of the city's name we know is the Aeolic Greek Μύρρα Mýrrha, corresponding to the later Ionian and Attic Σμύρνα (Smýrna) or Σμύρνη (Smýrnē), both presumably descendants of a Proto-Greek form *Smúrnā. Some would see in the city's name a reference to the name of an Amazon called Smyrna who would have seduced Theseus, leading him to name the city in her honor. Others link the name to the Myrrha commifera shrub, a plant that produces the aromatic resin called myrrh and is indigenous to the Middle East and northeastern Africa. The Romans took this name over as Smyrna which is the name that is still used in English when referring to the city in pre-Turkish periods.
As shown above, the name İzmir (Ottoman Turkish: إزمير İzmir) is the modern Turkish version of the name Smyrna/ Smyrni. In Greek it is Σμύρνη (Smýrni), Իզմիր (Izmir) in Armenian, Smirne in Italian, Esmirna in Spanish, Smyrne in French, and Izmir (without the Turkish dotted İ) in Ladino.
In English, the city was called Smyrna until the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930, upon which the name Izmir (sometimes İzmir) was also adopted in English and most foreign languages.